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Note: This chapter is not yet BETA edited. Correction: Has now been BETA'd.

Thank you to all of you who continue to read and review and I am sorry for the delay.

Chapter Forty-eight

Goblet of Fire

Draco sat silently at the breakfast table, moving his eggs around on his plate with his fork, not having much of an appetite to enjoy them. His mind was far too occupied with other things, including the upcoming tournament. He didn't have a lot of time left. He knew that he had to make a decision soon. He had several options, each as crazy as the next, but he knew that he had to do something to try and stop the return of the Dark Lord. He supposed he could try and remove the age line from the Goblet of Fire, though since it was put there by Dumbledore himself he wasn't sure he would be able to; if he was successful he could put his name in the Goblet at the last minute after Barty Jr. had added Harry under the guise of a fourth school, and hope that his name was pulled instead of the Boy-Who Lived, keeping his friend out of harm's way.

Draco also supposed he could just try and stop Moody/Crouch from adding a fourth school and Harry's name to the Tournament, but he realized straight off that probably wasn't the best idea. If Moody really was Barty Jr., he was positive that the ever-loyal Death Eater wouldn't hesitate to attempt and kill him if he thought that it was necessary and Draco wasn't stupid enough to take that chance. There was also the idea of simply letting things play out and then doing his best to steer Harry in the right direction during the tasks.

"Draco, we better get going," the voice of his good friend Crabbe pulled him from his weary thoughts, "We're going to be late to Charms."

"Oh, right." Shoving his uneaten plate of eggs aside, Draco picked up his rucksack and left the Great Hall with his friends.

Xxx

Hermione could tell that something was bothering her best friend. He was having a hard time focusing in class, he was oddly quiet and had a distant look in his normally vibrant blue-grey eyes. When classes ended for the day, she took her friend by the hand and suggested that they go for a walk. Draco agreed with a nod and the two friends made their way out of the castle and towards the surrounding grounds.

Hermione wrapped her cloak around her as a cold wind suddenly blew past. "Maybe we should have found a warm place inside to talk," she said with a shiver.

Draco just smiled as he took off his Slytherin scarf and draped it over her shoulders. "We can go in if you want," he offered.

Hermione shook her head and continued walking, "No, it's fine, besides this is more private."

Draco raised an eyebrow. "Is that so?" He said a smirk pulling to his lips, "and what exactly is it you wanted to have a private conversation about?"

Hermione felt her cheeks warm and ducked her head, "I was just… Well, you seemed sort of distracted today," she spoke softly, her head rising, her eyes meeting his, "I just wondered if everything was okay."

Draco's smirk slipped into a small smile and nodded, "Just a lot on my mind."

Hermione stopped walking, causing Draco to stop as well. She then placed a hand on his shoulder, and softly asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"

He did want to talk about it; it would be a great relief to be able to tell someone, and who better than his best friend, but how could he? He couldn't come right out and tell her the truth. She was aware that he had 'dreams' about the future. It would be in fact quite easy to use his so called premonitions as a way to get the information across to her without her getting suspicious.

"Yes, but, well it would have to stay between us," Draco said.

"Of course," Hermione replied, "you know I can keep a secret."

Of course he knew that, but hearing her say it just made him want to tell her the truth, the whole truth but… no, not yet.

"Okay," he began, "I had a dream, a premonition, about the Tournament and… Harry."

Hermione's eyes widen in surprise and curiosity, "What did you dream about exactly?"

As her best friend told her a tale of Harry's name coming out of the Goblet of Fire, of him being forced to fight Dragons, evade armed mermaids and make his way through a deadly maze, Hermione's eyes grew wider and wider.

"They were all quick flashes but very clear," Draco lied easily. "I'm worried, Mione. I don't want Harry to get hurt but I don't know what to do about it?" That part was completely true.

The young Gryffindor suddenly looked very thoughtful and after several moment of reflection she asked, "Draco, do you think if Harry's name was put in the Goblet, that maybe you would be able to remove it?"

Draco shook his head sadly, "I don't think anyone could; once it's in, it only comes out if the Goblet chooses it."

Hermione sighed, and then adding, "Now you said Harry's name came out after Cedric's, right?" He nodded in affirmation. "But Harry's not even close to seventeen, so why would the Goblet pick him at all?"

Draco knew the answer: Barty, Jr. had added a fourth school to the Tournament - but that wasn't something that was known until after the competition was over. He didn't think that it would be a good idea to suddenly say, "And another thing I saw was in my premonition was…", so he played dumb.

"I'm not sure," he shrugged.

"Maybe," Hermione said her brow shooting up, "whoever put his name in the cup took away the age line just long enough to put in his name and then put it back on."

Draco had to admit - the idea had merit. Even when Barty, Jr. added a fourth school, Dumbledore's age line should have still worked and rejected Harry's entry, so she just might have been right about that.

"That's a good possibility, but I don't see how knowing that's going to help Harry."

Hermione let out a long breath of air and nodded, "Maybe not, but the way I see it, Draco, there's really only two things you could do: you could either tell a teacher, who probably won't believe you, or you tell Harry."

He had thought about telling Harry, but he didn't want to put that type of burden on him if he could help it. While he knew it wasn't possible, he just wished that he could just destroy the bloody Goblet all together!

XXX

It was midnight and a lone figure stood in the Great Hall, a slip of parchment in hand. Taking a shaky breath, he took a step forward, passing the age line. Letting out a small laugh of surprise, he then reached out his arm, letting the piece of parchment fall from his fingertips and watched as it was consumed by the blue flames of the Goblet.

XXX

Draco sat next to Hermione, who kept giving him worried glances. He hadn't told his best friend what he had ultimately decided to do about Harry and the Tournament, and he was thankful that she hadn't asked. He hadn't gone to a teacher - he knew that wasn't something he could or should do at this point. Instead, he had done something incredibly stupid and, in truth, he had no idea if it would even work. If it did, then Harry would have a much less stressful year and Draco would have a much more dangerous one. If it didn't, then he would at least be there to support Harry throughout the Tournament.

"Draco," he turned toward her at the sound of her soft, sweet voice, "It will be okay," she reassured him, taking his hand into hers and squeezing it gently.

Draco simply nodded and turned his attention back to the Goblet, still holding his best friend's hand.

"Looks like the whole school showed up," Harry said sitting down beside Draco. Ron and Neville, who had come in with Harry, squeezed into a spot behind them.

"Yep, looks like."

"Any guesses on who'll get chosen for Hogwarts?" Harry asked.

Draco just sighed and shook his head, but under his breath added, "Yeah, I've got a pretty good guess."

"Well, the Goblet is almost ready to make its decision," Dumbledore announced suddenly. Draco eyes bolted over to the Headmaster, who was looking quite cheerful. He then gave instructions on where to go for whomever was called from the Goblet.

The flames inside the Goblet turned red, sparks began to shoot from it and then, whoosh, a charred piece of parchment flew from the Goblet and into the Headmaster's open hand.

"The champion for Durmstrang is, Viktor Krum!"

Draco's gaze shot over to the Bulgarian who had made his way through a crowd of cheers and handshakes.

A second piece of parchment quickly fluttered out of the Goblet, "The Champion for Beauxbatons Is Amiee Ardee."

There was a smattering of applause mixes with whispers and confused glances, Draco among them, "What had happened to Fleur?" He whispered.

"She is not seventeen until December!" An older girl from Beauxbatons announced in a huff.

The girl in question looked somewhat surprised herself but not at all deterred. She said something in French as she walked toward the area where the Champions were to gather. Hermione giggled and that was when Draco remembered she spoke French. Giving her a curious glance, Hermione then said, "She said the other girl was jealous and to quit whining."

Oh.

The Headmaster and Mistress along with Crouch gathered together near the Goblet, the entire room was silent as they spoke. After sometime they came to a decision and disbursed from their huddle. "It would seem," Dumbledore's clean, white beard pulling down with his deep frown, "that someone has tampered with the age line. Despite the… situation, the Goblet's choice cannot be undone; since Miss Ardee will be seventeen before the end of the Tournament, we have decided to allow her to compete. Now… let's resume where we left off, shall we?"

With the raise of Dumbledore's hand another piece of parchment flew from the Goblet.

The Headmaster let out a long sigh as he read the Hogwarts champion's name, and it wasn't Cedric Diggory… "Draco Malfoy!"

A small smirk pulled to the young Slytherin's lips as he moved to stand, only a small hand caught his arm. Hermione's eyes were wide as she whispered, "You entered?"

Draco nodded, "I didn't know if it would work," he whispered back then adding, "I'll tell you more later." Hermione nodded and released her best friend.

"Do you think Draco's the one who messed with the age line?" Hermione turned to Harry whose unsure eyes were following Draco as he walked through the Great Hall.

"I don't know, but I'm going to find out," she sighed, shaking her head, "And if he did I'm going to hex the daylights out of him!"

XXX

Draco rolled his eyes at French girl who laughed as he walked into the room, joining the other two selected champions. "You have got to be kidding," she spoke, still giggling.

"Oh shut it, you little twit," Draco shot back, "I may be young but I'm brilliant and powerful. I have just as much chance to win this as anyone else."

She just laughed and shrugged, "If you say so, little boy."

Krum said nothing but gave Draco a dumbfounded look. But that didn't surprise Draco, Krum may have been a great wizard but he was as dumb as a rock.

As the doors to the room once again pushed open, Draco was expecting to see the Head of the School and Crouch; instead, in walked a smaller-than-average forth year with a mop of black hair holding a piece of burnt parchment in his hand.

This hadn't gone how he'd expected. Draco hadn't known exactly how Barty, Jr. had gotten Harry's name past the age line the first time; he only had theories, so he'd decided the best way to go about getting himself in was to remove the age line altogether. It hadn't been as difficult as he had expected to find a way to reverse it. He had found it in a parenting book, which showed how to create and remove wards to stop their underage children from getting into things that they weren't supposed to. In truth, he was surprised that it had worked - it seemed far too easy, but sometimes the simplest answer is the easiest one. He then placed a very difficult and not so friendly hex on the Goblet, if anyone else had attempted to enter the tournament they would have been blasted across the room. He had assumed that he had placed his name in the Goblet before Barty, Jr. had created the fourth school and put in Harry's name. Apparently Draco's timing had been a tad off. Somehow Barty, Jr. had gotten around his hex.

"Well, shit!" Draco cursed, and not at all quietly.

"You can say that again," Harry said, "and as usual I'm in it deep."

A/N: Hope you enjoyed the chapter! Up next, Dragons.